Punishing Satur Ocampo

Text messages protesting Manila Police’s plan to transfer Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo to Leyte woke me up this morning. One message said Ocampo’s wife, retired UP journalism Prof. Carolina Malay, was asking their friends to gather in front of the Manila Police District building where her husband was detained. Other text messages were invitations to a forum in defense of Ka Satur.

I also received another one saying the police’s treatment of Ocampo was very reminiscent of martial law. Ocampo was forcibly taken from the general assignments section to a van that would take him to the airport. The police, who said it was their job to present Ocampo to the court, had to literally drag the congressman, who refused to go to Leyte fearing that his life would be in danger. Ocampo’s fear was not unfounded, given the state security forces’ passion for neutralizing its perceived enemies.

A Leyte court has issued a warrant of arrest against Ocampo on charges of multiple murder for his alleged involvement in the purge of suspected deep penetration agents in the communist movement in the 1980s. The military claimed it has uncovered a mass grave of purge victims in Inopacan town in Leyte last year. A military witness also accused Ocampo–who was in prison at that time– of personally directing the purge in 1985. The National Democratic Front called the Leyte mass grave “a massive hoax”.

Ocampo’s supporters have pointed out the irregularities in the legal process that led to his arrest last week. “The warrant of arrest is illegal because the judge did not examine the affidavit executed by the witnesses,” said the Inquirer quoted former Sen. Tañada as saying. It seems like things were done in haste.

Last year, the administration filed rebellion charges against Ocampo and his colleagues. It earlier accused them–without presenting a single evidence–of funelling their pork barrel to the New People’s Army. When these charges did not prosper, it came out with the Leyte mass graves.

Watching the video of Congressman Ocampo being dragged and shoved into a van by the police, I can’t help but ask myself why things such as this happen in this country rumored to be a democracy.

Meanwhile, here are other bloggers’ thoughts on this:

Also, is it me or is the military and the police now in charge of our government, given how they’ve ignored the usual judicial processes? But seeing how our government seems to be incompetent in dealing with these things, no wonder they’re in charge. –Banzai Cat

There’s nothing wrong about a prisoner transfer, without a court order, being funded out of someone’s personal funds? –Uniffors

Now they realize, they made a fool of themselves in their effort to persecute Satur. paano kasi kung ano-anong scapegoat ang hinahanap sa mga palpak nila. Lalong pumapalpak. —Ellen Tordesillas

Blame it on Bayan Muna Representative Satur Ocampo for fighting for civil liberties. –Nealyn Reyes

“Upon landing back in Manila,
Satur was greeted by the news
that the latest survey of Pulse Asia:
it ranked BAYAN MUNA as the #1 Party List group
in the May elections,” — spanx

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